Tag Archive | web 2.0

How Being a Lifelong Learner Will Benefit My Students Next Year

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee

So I’m feeling pretty good about the way I’ve spent my summer… It’s definitely NOT been a vacation! Thanks to my grad classes and the need to come up with some fresh material (since I’ve got the same kids this year), I’ve really been “out there” on Twitter, our class Edmodo, and have been reading blogs to find new tools and come up with some fun projects/activities for next year. My main goals are to get my kids connected, and to provide them with a wider audience for their work.

With only a few weeks worth of effort, I’ve come up with the following…

1. Mystery Skype for SS States & Regions Study – I posted a link on the Skype in the Classroom site with my project and have gotten several replies. The big turn around happened in a Twitter chat though, when I mentioned the project. Another teacher, Caren MacConnell, was also assembling a list of educators who wanted to participate, and suggested we combine forces. Both of us have been promoting the project, and as of today, have 59 classes who want to particpate! Never underestimate the power of a PLN…

2. My Maps – Thanks to the intro piece to my Learning in a Connected World class by my professor Eric Brunsell, I found out about the “My Maps” function of Google Maps. Instead of a standard report, I’m going to have my kids pick a state to learn about, and use the My Maps function to identify the capital, major points of interest, landforms, industry, and natural resources. They’ll be able to write about each of these at a placemarker, as opposed to just typing a report. This will also enable them to share their project/learning with other students as they present their map in class.

3. “About Me” Wordle (or Tagxedo) and Blog Project – Thanks to Paula Naugle, I’ve found a fun project for the beginning of the year. Since we will have 1:1 netbooks this year, this is a great way for the kids to jump in right away. They’ll create the word cloud and write a post in Kidblog.org about themselves to share with the class.

4. Poetry Unit with VoiceThread – In looking through examples on the VoiceThread site, I found a great project. Students wrote themed poetry, and illustrated their poems. The picture of the poem was uploaded to VoiceThread, and the student read the poem aloud. Feedback and comments were solicited from other teachers. It is a great way for students to “publish” their work, and practice reading with inflection and fluency.

5. Edmodo – Since I am looping with my class, after using Edmodo for my graduate class, I decided to create a group for my classroom. I’ve invited my students, and shared a “My Maps” of my summer travel spots, an example of my “WeeMee” avatar (thanks Allison Fitzwater!), a Glog of my vacation pictures,  messages using fodey.com and pageplugins.com (one telling them to check our Diigo page for new links), a link to wonderopolis.com, and a poll about the books we read aloud last year. I want them to see these and hope they will explore them over the summer. We’ll continue to use Edmodo throughout the year to share.

6. Global Read Aloud – Organized by Pernille Ripp. There are currently 200 classes signed up for a Global Read Aloud of either Tuck Everlasting or Flat Stanley. https://spreadsheets1.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?hl=en_US&key=tXuBxoFw0ftLWB3SEW13SGw&hl=en_US#gid=0 I joined the Google Group for the planning of the Tuck read aloud http://groups.google.com/group/gra11-tuck-planning/topics and also the Edmodo group for the kids to discuss (code qd93ty). It starts on Sept. 14 and I am quite excited! They are still brainstorming for other ways to connect via Skype, blogs, VT, etc.

Photo courtesy of John LeMasney

So much to look forward to… thanks to my experience with Powerful Learning Practice – Which led to my graduate study at UWOSH, and the formation of my precious PLN! So I’m “paying it forward” and posting these for others to see as well. What fun projects have you discovered using technology or web 2.0 tools? How will you be connecting this year? Will your students have an audience for their work? Are you infusing creativity and exploration into your projects? Please share in the comments!!

What Motivates You?


At the beginning of this school year, I submitted an “application” of sorts to be considered for a new team at our school. A “Digital Learning Team” was being formed, with only 6 faculty members that would participate in the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) program. We attended a kickoff in Dallas in September, attended several Elluminate sessions, and are wrapping up the year by creating an action research project for our faculty. We’ll celebrate the year and share what we’ve learned back in Dallas next month. I was honored to have been chosen for this team, and have put many hours into learning and growing this year to improve my teaching and to help lead others.

As a “student” I’ve stepped into some very new territory and learned to use a plethora of new tools! I also began writing this blog, created a Google Reader, and became active on Twitter. Collaboration and sharing are two of the most important concepts I have embraced this year. I have also begun to value creativity and innovation more than ever before. These concepts define 21st Century Learning for me: COLLABORATION, SHARING, CREATIVITY, and INNOVATION.

What best motivates me to work these crazy hours, learn new programs and create accounts for each student, write a regular blog, keep up with an RSS reader, Twitter, and two Nings? I can answer that question in two words: POSITIVE FEEDBACK. It’s embarrassing, but I’m a glutton for it. Here are just a few examples…

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, co-founder of the PLP program, cross-posted one of my blogs on the PLP blog. She tweeted a link to another one of my blogs with the hashtag of the NAIS conference she was attending. She has a HUGE following, and was recommending that people read MY blog!! I was beside myself for days…

• I attended a social event at my school last weekend, and the Associate Head of our school told me how impressed she was with what I had learned this year. I went back to my table and beamed…

• I created an Xtranormal movie to be used as part of the introduction to our action research project, and tweeted a link to Susan Carter Morgan for feedback. Within ten minutes she tweeted back with an enthusiastic positive response, AND put a link to the movie on her Scoop.it! on Educational Professional Development. Suddenly the three hours I spent creating the movie were all worth it…

Ok, this sounds like it belongs in Will Richardson’s “Shameless Self-Promotion Department” now, but that’s not the point… The point is that positive feedback is incredibly motivational. I knew this… but suddenly when it was me, I got it.

I’ve worked with my 3rd graders this year to help them see the benefits of collaboration, sharing, creativity, and innovation. One thing we have done is to learn how to use Storybird and Glogster to produce creative stories and posters, and most importantly, share them with others. My students love these sites, and frequently use their free time at home to create new stories and posters. This is one BIG selling point for Web 2.0 – I’ve never had students working voluntarily at home on the weekends!! I take care to leave a positive comment on anything new they’ve created so they know I’ve seen it, and am proud of them! They love getting feedback from each other as well. It motivates them to keep trying and pushes them to produce higher quality results, hoping for more positive comments. What more could I ask for??

On the wall behind my desk is a piece of art that says simply, “Inspire”. When I am in the front of the room teaching, I can see it behind my students – It reminds me what I am there to do. To inspire – to motivate – to encourage. Positive feedback may be the most important tool I use.

Do You Practice What You Preach?

A good friend and fellow educator wrote a blog recently about how to convince teachers to leave their dated teaching methods, and explore some of the technology and 21st century teaching methods that allow students to drive their own learning. (http://mweser.edublogs.org/2011/02/26/incentives/) The blog got me thinking… Actually, it got me angry. Why should we have to beg and plead these teachers to stay current in their field? Why should we have to offer incentives? In what other field can you fall behind in current trends and methodology and not risk losing your job to someone who is willing to work harder for less??? My 100 wpm fingers spun off an angry retort to the blog – Don’t ask them to do it, MAKE them do it! It’s their JOB to do it!

Why do we teach – it’s the big paycheck, right? Not so much. We teach because helping to develop young minds is our passion – Because we have the incredible opportunity to help feed a child’s natural curiosity and foster a love of learning. So what should be the primary goal of a teacher? Not to teach skills or content (although these are secondary goals), but to teach children HOW to learn. How to find the answers to their questions. How to solve problems. Why? So they can continue learning for the rest of their lives.

How can we convince our students to become life-long learners, if we have stopped learning ourselves? I am frustrated by teachers who talk loudly and proudly about how they are not jumping on this latest “fad”. They boast that their methods have worked for years, and will continue to work, despite the fact that children are learning differently in this age than ever before. The world is changing around them, and they are painfully stubborn and stuck in their ways. It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss story of The Zax. These characters will only walk in one direction. They refuse to step to the side when they run into each other, even though this stops them from making any forward progress.


I’m not suggesting that anyone blindly abandon everything they are doing for something new and unfamiliar. I think that’s just as irresponsible. I’m just asking them to do what we encourage our students to do – LEARN. Get out there – Develop a PLN (Personal Learning Network). There are folks to help, and even online tutorials. (http://prezi.com/xwxonmn3ryn8/web-20-for-teachers/) Watch videos. Read books, blogs, and tweets… There are teachers out there who are willing to SHARE what they have learned and what works for them. Then make an INFORMED decision. If something sounds like it has potential to light a fire in your students, give it a try! Be a role model for your faculty. Be the best teacher you can be.